Microsoft confirms SwiftKey buy, says it will continue developing Android and iOS apps

Microsoft may bring SwiftKey's keyboard to its Windows platforms too

Microsoft is buying SwiftKey, the developer of a popular software keyboard for Android and iOS phones -- even though it already has its own software keyboard, Word Flow.

Software keyboards such as SwiftKey and Word Flow are used to speed up input: Rather than pecking at individual letters, users slide their finger from one letter to another, drawing a shape on the touchscreen. The software analyses the pattern to identify which word they are trying to type.

Microsoft's executive vice president for technology and research, Harry Shum, confirmed the deal in a blog post Wednesday morning, after rumors began circulating Tuesday.

One of the attractions of SwiftKey is that it uses artificial intelligence techniques to speed users' typing.

Last October SwiftKey announced an alpha version of a new neural-network-based SwiftKey keyboard that does a better job of predicting which word the user will type next.

Most such systems perform the hard computation on a powerful server, sending a trickle of data from the smartphone to the cloud -- including everything the user types.

However, SwiftKey's Neural Alpha keyboard does the number-crunching on the phone, potentially allowing the system to be more respectful of users' privacy and security by storing and processing sensitive data locally.

In some ways, Microsoft's move is surprising, as it already has its own software keyboard, Word Flow, and last month announced that it would release versions of Word Flow for Android and iOS, where SwiftKey is already available.

Shum said Microsoft had no plans to shut down SwiftKey's iOS or Android apps, and promised to continue their development.

In addition, he said, "[We will] explore scenarios for the integration of the core technology across the breadth of our product and services portfolio," a move that could perhaps spell the end of Word Flow on Windows platforms. Shum promised further information about integration of SwiftKey and Word Flow in the coming months.

Microsoft isn't just after the software: It will also take on SwiftKey's staff, who work at the U.K. company's headquarters in central London and its offices in San Francisco and Seoul.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Matthew Stivala

HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer

The HP OfficeJet 250 Mobile Printer is a great device that fits perfectly into my fast paced and mobile lifestyle. My first impression of the printer itself was how incredibly compact and sleek the device was.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?